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XFX GeForce GTX 260 XXX Edition

We look at our first GTX 260, and we've done it the right way. Bypassing the stock model, we go straight to the XXX.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Jun 23 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: XFX

Introduction





When a new graphics card comes out, I tend to do the TweakTown review and then have a look around and see what some other reviewers thought of the card. However, I've been so busy lately with the new release of the HD 4800 series from AMD and the GTX 280 from NVIDIA that I haven't had a chance to check out any other GTX 200 series reviews.

What I have mostly seen, though, is that the majority of GTX 260 reviews floating around the internet are just the standard NVIDIA model, which is a bit boring. Today we'll be looking at the XFX offering, and not just some stock clocked XFX offering, but a full tilt XXX version which has some clocks to get excited about.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the GTX 260 fairs in this extremely competitive graphics card market, and hopefully its cheaper price tag can win us over. The graphics card market has never been this hot before, and while AMD are fighting the good fight to take the market share crown back, NVIDIA is battling them off with sticks at the moment.

Before we get into the GTX 260, let's see what XFX have managed to do with the package and the clock speeds on the card.

The Package




On the front of the box, 'GTX 260' clearly stands out with a bit of an explosion thing going on. Across the top we have the XFX logo next to the NVIDIA one and to the right of that we have mention that a full version copy of Assassin's Creed is included in the box.



Across the bottom we have mention that the card is PCI Express 2.0 and comes with 896MB of GDDR3 memory. Above the memory amount we have some more NVIDIA logos along with mention that the core comes in at 640MHz. Above this we also see XFX make mention that the card is an XXX Edition.



The back of the box has a picture of the card, and below that we have some of the key features which include 192 Processing Cores, PhysX, CUDA and more. To the left of this we have a blurb on the card and below that some more details on some of the particular features. Across the bottom we have the information for Assassin's Creed along with some more logos.



With the outside of the box done, it's time to dive inside. Apart from the standard manuals and driver CD, we have a full version copy of Assassin's Creed which was mentioned on the front of the box along with a little sign to hang off your door.



The cable department gives us a Molex to PCI Express connector, S/PDIF loop-back cable, DVI to VGA connector and a Component-out dongle.

The Card




With the package out of the way, let's look what's going on with the card itself. Straight away you see just how much it resembles the GTX 280 as far as the cooler goes.



The cooler manages to take up the whole front of the card while XFX have brightened it up a bit with a sticker that looks similar to the front of the box.



Turning the card over, we can see that XFX has gone to extended lengths to provide a sticker on the back of the card. If you find yourself with a window on the side of your case, you can display your GTX 260 loudly and proudly.





The top of the card shows us two SLI connectors while the other end gives us two PCI Express connectors and the port for the loop-back audio cable. This is actually the first time we've been able to tell the difference between the GTX 280 and GTX 260 with the latter having dual 6-pin while the 280 carries with it a single 6-pin and a single 8-pin connector.



The I/O side of things is exactly the same as the GTX 280 with two Dual Link DVI ports and a single TV-Out port. Of course, the card is also of the dual slot nature and has an exhaust area for the hot air to escape.


Specifications

The GTX 260 specifications just come in below the GTX 280 as expected. Stream Processors are down from 240 to 192, and Texture Addresses/Filters are down from 80 / 80 to 64 / 64. ROPs have dropped from 32 to 28, the core clock is at 575MHz, shader at 1242MHz and memory comes in at 1998MHz DDR on the 896MB of GDDR3.

The weird memory amount is thanks to the 448-bit memory bus width which is down from 512-bit on the GTX 280. The card of course uses the same 65nm GT 200 based core.

With this model being the XXX Edition from XFX, it's of course overclocked out of the box. The core has been bumped to 640MHz which we saw mentioned on the front of the box, and a memory clock of 2300MHz DDR has been set.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1
Drivers: Forceware 175.16 (9 Series) 177.34 (GTX 280)


While looking at how the GTX 260 XXX goes against the GTX 280 XXX, we will see how it also compares against the 9800 GTX and 9800 GX2 to see if the price drop affects performance much.


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.




We can see a small dip in performance when compared to the GTX 280; performance sits at a similar level to the 9800 GTX at the lower resolution. As we go higher up, though, it does pull ahead. The 9800 GX2 remains ahead at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.




Under X we can see the GTX 260 come out ahead of the 9800 GX2, while at P it's extremely close. It certainly gives the 9800 GTX a real beat down at this resolution.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.






We can see the performance difference between the GTX 260 and GTX 280 being very minimal with it coming out ahead of both the 9800 GTX and GX2 for the most part.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




Under CINEBENCH we can see the GTX 260 actually comes out a little ahead of the GTX 280 here and remains ahead of the other two cards tested here today.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.






Up to 1920 x 1200 the performance between the GTX 260 and GTX 280 is very similar, but when we move to 2560 x 1600 we see the card drop back slightly. It continues to remain ahead of the 9800 GTX, however, and it scores similarly to the 9800 GX2.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here





From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.

Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.




We again see the GTX 260 fall back a bit when compared to the GTX 280, but it continues to have a little lead over the 9800 GTX.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




The GTX 260 continues to outperform the 9800 GTX at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


3DMark06



With AA and AF turned on in 3DMark06, the GTX 260 again sits just behind the GTX 280 and continues to have a healthy lead over the 9800 GTX.


World In Conflict





We see big boosts for the GT 200 based GTX cards here; under the extreme load, though, we can see the GTX 280 does get quite the jump on the GTX 260.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.




Our XP 3DMark06 results paint a similar picture to what we saw under Vista; the GTX 260 has a nice lead at the higher resolution against the 9800 GTX and continues to just trail behind the GTX 280.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




CINEBENCH XP performance is a bit different to our Vista results with the two GT 200 based cards scoring quite close to each other and the dual GPU GX2 coming out ahead.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.





As with Vista, we see that the GTX 260 only really falls behind the GTX 280 at resolutions greater than 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




Finally we finish our game benchmarks with the GTX 260 continuing to have a nice little lead over the 9800 GTX at the higher resolutions, whilst performing similarly to the GTX 280 at the lower resolutions.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.




The lower clocked GTX 260 runs a little cooler than the higher clocked GTX 280.


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).




As you would expect, the noise levels between the two GTX 200 series cards are pretty close to each other.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.




Load wattage takes a bit of a dive compared to the GTX 280, while the idle is actually a few watts up.

Final Thoughts




I do have to say that it's surprising to see just how close the GTX 260 performs to the GTX 280 in resolutions up to 2560 x 1600. Only at 2560 x 1600 does the GTX 280 begin to show clear signs of a performance increase. Considering the price of the GTX 260 compared to the GTX 280, it could be considered quite the bargain.

There are a few things we have to wonder though; the HD 4870 is just around the corner which is going to come in cheaper again, and the 9800 GTX+ should also begin to show up in the next few weeks. While the GTX 260 looks like an attractive buy at the moment, NVIDIA could be making a mistake by releasing the GTX+ at a cheaper price which may offer extremely similar performance once again.

XFX has done a good job with the card; the price is alright, availability is growing, performance is attractive and the bundle is pretty good with a full version copy of Assassin's Creed in the package.

As of this second, the GTX 260 does look like quite the card to buy. The thing is though, will the next 24 - 48 hours change this as we get samples of the HD 4870? - Well, we can't see into the future so we won't know 'till tomorrow.

For the most part though, the XFX does seem like a very good value card with some good performance to boot. For that reason we will give it the "Value" Editor's Choice Award because compared to the GTX 280 it does offer very good value.

What do TweakTown awards and ratings mean? Click!

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
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